Essay, Pages 4 (812 words)
How do the writers of both novels demonstrate that substantial power is being taken from the characters?
The writers of both novels demonstrate that substantial power is being taken from the characters through violence and war.
In A Handmaid’s Tale, violence is the regime’s most useful way of controlling Gilead’s people, for example when Moira is tortured at the Red Centre and there was victims on the wall. The use of violence leaves people in fear which means the population can be controlled easier.
The act of war destroyed Offred’s family which still haunts her as she now has no love in her life and with the government in Gilead has obliterated her trust in other people leaving her isolated and lonely. The violent manipulation over Offred is demonstrated through ‘Freedom, like everything else, is relative’. This subordinate clause implies that Offred’s views freedom not as an option but as an upper class advantage and the power she once had disappeared along with her dignity due to manipulation and violence.
Another interpretation could be that Offred believes she could have freedom if she went and got it for herself by standing up to the regime, however you can only achieve freedom if you break free from the system. Margeret Atwood successfully shows violence as a substantial power being taken away as she uses Offred to show the isolation created by no freedom and the fear of getting hurt.
Similarly, in the novel 1984 the writer demonstrates substantial power being taken away through violence and war. The novel depicts warfare as a critical tool in a totalitarian state and like in A Handmaid’s Tale, relies on fear to keep the state under control. The physical abuse given to Winston reflects on his perception of the future, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face- for ever”. This quote represents fear and isolation and depicts the way Winston thinks about life in the future. The hyphen at the end of the sentence is used successfully to emphasise the words “for ever” which implies the totalitarian system is made to make people of the state think that the future beholds worse than what is being experienced in that period of time. During this time period when much of the Western world was lauding communism as a step towards human progress in the development of equality in government which Orwell evidently spoke out about and tried to change the practice. In comparison to A Handmaid’s Tale by Margeret Atwood, 1984 by George Orwell portrays the theme of violence more successfully as the book details the elimination of power towards all humanity using techniques such as stripping Winston of his basic rights and being ruthlessly interrogated. The novel’s overall theme of substantial power being subtracted from people’s lives relates to Orwell’s earlier life during his scholarship at prestigious boarding schools in England. He famously described his family as “lower-upper-middle class” and mentioned he never fit in and felt oppressed by the dictatorial control that the schools he attended pushed onto the students.
On the other hand, A Handmaid’s Tale demonstrates substantial power being taken away through their identity. For example, the idea of each woman being offered to a wealthy married couple being stripped of their identity by taking everything about themselves away from them, including their names. The reader is unaware throughout the book of Offred’s real name, therefore revealing the struggle of the characters comfort within her own skin. The extended metaphor “A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze” implies that the freedom that the female lower class characters are brainwashed into believing they have, are actually restricted within their own personality and are expected to demote themselves to fit the expectation of being a possession to other people. Another interpretation could be that the only way to survive is to be the metaphorical “rat in a maze” otherwise you will be exposed to violence in order to stay in societies expectations, showing the stripping of your identity is a survival technique and arguably not a form of mental reinforcement. Atwood’s novel offers a feminist’s view of a dystopian world, influenced by the elections of Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margeret Thatcher in Great Britain. This was during a period of conservative revival in the West fuelled by a strong movement of religious conservatives in the 1960’s to the 1970’s as they criticised what they perceived as an excess of “sexual revolution”. The growing religious movement made feminists fear that it would make women lose what they had fought for during the previous decades, such as not having a voice and that a woman’s right to birth control, abortion and sexual preferences were going to be taken away when they had previously fought for it once already.